More good stuff from the guys over at Pedals 2 Medals, a massive part of BMX racing is being mentally prepared and in the right frame of mind when you get to a race , so have a read of these wise words from Mike Day, as always you can find more outstanding advice at the Pedals 2 Medals site-http://pedals2medals.com/
Set Up Your Mental Game.
By Mike Day
After watching the weekend of racing down at the Olympic Training Center for the last stop of the 2014 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup series, I couldn’t help but reflect on how hard that track is. You would watch some of the heat races where only half of the guys would make it around the track. It has to be the hardest track I’ve ever raced on. These are the tracks where race day strategy comes in, big time. Developing a solid race day strategy routine is the least fun part of training and, some might say, the most challenging. But, hands down, it’s the most important. So this week for #WinningWednesdays, I want to give you a few tips that will help you at the races, once all the work has been done, and your about to get on the gate.
•Get a pre-gate routine set up that you’ll do every single time you get in the gate to race. Use this last bit of time before your lap to get into “race mode.” It can be a breathing exercise, visualizing the perfect lap, or an audible cue you give yourself like “Let’s Go!,” or whatever works for you. The important thing is that, once you do that small gesture, imagine a big electric switch has been flipped, and it only gets turned off after the finish line. Work on this at the local track during practice. Once you have it figured out and it becomes part of your routine, it won’t feel weird when you get the bigger races (because it WILL feel weird at first). I used to clap my hands together hard a few times, stop, close my eyes and picture the perfect gate, then get in and make it happen.
•We covered this in past #winningwednesdays, but I can’t stress this enough: know your competition. This becomes easier when you have a bit more experience but know the strengths and weaknesses of your competition. If you don’t get out in front, make sure to you know the best place to pass each rider in your class. Maybe it’s in the rhythm section, so you’ll know to set up and get the most exit speed coming it. Knowing when and where to pass makes you more relaxed, which will make you more confident, and you’ll have a smoother lap.
•Study each track when you get there, before riding. You don’t get that much practice at the big races so it becomes very important to learn the track. Check YouTube before the race to see if there are some videos of the track you can study to get a head-start on the visualization exercise in #1. You know your skill level and what you can do on each straightaway, so develop a plan of how you’re going to deal with the track before practice. Start with the obstacles you think are going to have the hardest time with, and work from there. Be completely warmed up beforehand so when practice starts you’re ready to start going hard. Don’t waste time warming up during practice, you’ll blow most of your time– be ready when you show up.
•At the bigger races you’re going to have a huge gap between races so develop a warm-up routine that you do before each lap. Break it down so you do it the same amount of time before the next race lap. This way, you’ll know exactly how your body is going to feel every time.
•Most importantly, race with confidence! You have done the training and the work it takes to win, now it’s up to you to think–to KNOW– you can! Believe in yourself.
You have all heard the quote, “90% of it is mental.” And it’s true. You can do all the training, all the work it takes to be the best, but your mentals and strategy is the biggest, and one of the hardest parts to your training.
I remember getting ready for the Olympic trials in 2008, my last chance to make the biggest of “big shows.” I knew that I wasn’t going to get the coach’s pick, and Kyle Bennett was already picked for the team, by winning his spot on points.
I had trained for years with the goal of going to the Olympics, and my last chance of getting there was winning this one-day race. So many things could have gone wrong, but this is where my race prep and strategy came into full effect. I knew I only had to race one full gate of guys, so I studied each of them and watched them leading up to the race to see where they were good and where they were not-so-good on the track.
I lived on-site, so I studied that track to the fullest, and knew every inch of it. I even knew, if I got bumped in the first corner, the least amount of speed I would need to still clear the big step-up in the second straight. I was really good in that rhythm section and I studied the second turn so I knew where I needed to come out of it to carry the most speed heading into the section. I took it further-still, and six weeks leading up to the event I did a race simulation every Saturday.
They published the schedule of the race, and I did my race simulation at those exact times, every time, to know how I would feel after every lap so it wasn’t a shock on the day-of. I broke it down to the point where I knew when to start warming up for the next lap, when I needed a little bit of food, and a cool down protocol after each round.
I left nothing to chance, and it paid off! I actually won before the final, because no one had enough points to catch me. Looking back, every one of those guys could have won that day. I don’t feel I was faster, I honestly feel I was more prepared, with the best race day strategy.
So, before your next big race, whether it’s a local, a national, the main at the Grands or that one chance you may have some day, work on these tips, put everything together, and watch it improve your results.
And like I always say: have FUN with the process!